UPDATE May 2022: In April, we reached out to about 150 people that had previously expressed interest in the possibility of internet service through a locally-owned cooperative.
At the time, the Mission Valley Internet Cooperative (MVIC) team was seeking a significant increase in community engagement in order to continue developing the cooperative. Unfortunately, while a number of people responded to that email to offer their support, we feel that the current level of engagement and energy are not sufficient to successfully move this project forward. Given this reality, the MVIC team has decided to suspend our work for the time being.
We still believe strongly in the benefits and viability of a cooperative approach to internet service, and we would be more than happy to support any group that would like to continue pushing this project forward, whenever they decide to do so.
We are also aware of several other projects attempting to bring affordable and reliable broadband to the area and will continue to monitor the situation as those projects develop to see if and how a cooperative approach might be included in them.
The MVIC Team
Our mission is to bring a community-owned internet service to the Mission Valley.
Like other rural areas in Montana, our community has very limited access to broadband internet with download speeds of at least 100 Mbps. Montana is ranked one of the last in broadband access in the country. Residents pay the most for the slowest speeds compared to other states in the U.S.
The Mission Valley Internet Co-op wants to change this. Our goal is to bring reliable, fast, and affordable broadband internet to the Mission Valley by using innovative Althea network technology. We feel that broadband internet is a daily necessity and should be available to everybody. Like water and electricity.
Here is the very short version of how the technology works: From an access point of high-speed connection in the area, neighbors can relay signals to farther out areas. The co-op is the local network operator and installs a small antenna (about the size of a dinner plate) on your home that connects you with others in your neighborhood. The network of relays connects households to multiple high-speed pathways for internet. The Althea router software automatically optimizes the path your data takes for best speed and price. People that host a special relay antenna on their roof, sharing the signal out to other households, reduce their bill or get additional credit on their account. We all together will create our own internet network that will be webbing through the Mission Valley from north of Polson to Arlee.
Comparable to a prepaid phone plan, you will pay a chosen dollar amount (as little and as often as you want) through your router onto your account, and the Althea software on your router bills your account based on your data usage. The software will allow you to monitor and verify your data usage and billing at any time. The “pay-for-what-you-use” pricing is similar to your electric or water bill. If you don’t use the internet, for example because you are on vacation, you won’t pay anything beyond a small monthly base service fee. A pre-pay format means you’ll never receive a surprise bill.
All connections are secure and encrypted; your privacy remains protected.
If you use Mission Valley Internet Co-op’s broadband services you will not be a customer of a profit-oriented business. You will be a shareholder of a member-benefit oriented cooperative. The ownership of the network stays local. Surplus revenue is returned to the members. Each member has a vote on the cooperative’s operation and structure, for example price models for the internet service, and revenue sharing models within the membership.
Our goal is to be able to offer speeds of 50 to 100 Mbps (download and upload) and up to 500 Mbps for relay operators.